Thursday, January 31, 2013


What does it mean to be brave?

When Annike was a little girl she was tough. She didn't cry when she got hurt. If she did cry, then we knew it was bad news. We thought she was brave.

Now we have changed our minds. She squawks loudly at the mere thought of getting hurt. If Sommer touches her in any way, we hear about it... though I have to admit that Sommer can pack a punch.

The thing that is different now in Annike as a 4-year-old versus Annike as a baby is her knowledge of fear. She now knows fear because she understands that bad things can happen. Fear of the future, fear of blood, fear of what pain feels like, and of course, when it comes to interactions with Sommer, fear of getting clawed up at the same time as she loses a toy.

Lately, I have been thinking about what it means to be brave. I see a lot of brave people in my life right now, and I want to be one of them. And I have decided that when Annike was a baby and did not cry does not really mean she was brave. She just had a high pain tolerance that seems to have evaporated with her 3rd birthday.

Being brave does not have anything to do with pain tolerance. Being brave is also not about living without fear. It is not throwing caution to the wind, or acting in stupidity, or doing something crazy that Hollywood might call brave. It is not possessing physical strength.

Being brave is acutely feeling the fear of what can happen but choosing to walk forward courageously, all the while trusting God with the details, the journey, the outcome. It may be risky. It may be hard. It is a choice.

Brave is choosing to forgive while the anger is still fresh.

Brave is walking through cancer, chemotherapy, hair loss, nausea, all the while trusting in God and seizing the opportunities He provides.

Brave is choosing to give someone the benefit of the doubt, offering the gift of trust, even if undeserved.

Brave is knowing when to fight and knowing when to let go.

Brave is caring for a developmentally delayed child, though every milestone is harder reached.

Brave is facing a terminal disease and choosing to enjoy the little things.

Brave is standing courageous in the face of opposition, feeling it is enough to be on God's side.

Brave is embracing the pain, believing that one day life will be different.

Brave is losing a baby in the womb, when all of the technology and ultrasounds and medicines will never be enough.

Brave is choosing to tell your story so that others will be encouraged.

Monday, January 21, 2013


"We may run, walk, stumble, drive, or fly, 
but let us never lose sight of the reason for the journey, 
or miss a chance to see a rainbow on the way."
- Gloria Gaither

I personally believe that children were designed by God to help adults do this. Whether we run, walk, trip, stagger, step backwards, crawl or fly, our children remind us to stand in awe of the rainbows. And they are constant reminders that life is a journey, not a destination.

Some pics of my children enjoying the "rainbows" in our week.

 And then the occasional moment when the world seems without rainbows, without reason to celebrate, without hope.

The tragedy was short-lived. Nothing like a banana, and a sister, to help find a smile.

Monday, January 14, 2013

happy new year

Happy New Year!  Am I too late to say that?  It is already the middle of January, but let's be honest, it takes me this long to get around to processing, then posting, an entry on this blog.

Spending time in reflection is one of my favorite things to do each January as the new year begins. That takes time. It all takes time. On January 1st, I could have written "Happy New Year" but I could not have written what is to follow, which in my book is what really matters. Only after time spent reflecting over the past year am I able to share about the theme repeated over and over and over again in my life.

This year God asked me to do some things that seemed hard. Maybe they don't sound hard to other people who have much bigger issues in their lives. But, to me, they seemed hard. A self-sacrificial, never-ending kind of hard. God asked me to do some things that seemed hard, then He gave me the strength to do them. A God who revealed in Himself a great pattern of faithfulness to me.

He asked me to parent a baby who did not know how to sleep, waking 4, 5, 6 times every night, then deciding catnaps during the day were enough for her. And He subsequently gave me the strength to get up each and every morning, to care for my family, to walk through my day with something that actually felt like energy. And more miraculously, He gave me the strength to have a good attitude, which I chose most days.

He asked me to wear a lot of hats. And He subsequently gave me exactly the right amount of time to juggle bookkeeping for our business, co-leading women's ministry in our church and parenting full time. Oh, and being a wife and a friend too. As an added bonus, once in a while He even gave me some spare time to do something fun outside of all those roles, like a crafty project or a post on this blog.

He asked me to spend time with Him every day. On the days when I did, He blessed me with depth and truth and gave the time back in some way. On the days when I didn't, He forgave me. And He called to me in a voice that was a little bit louder the following day.

He asked me to love my family. And He taught me that loving them means snuggling and serving and playing and laughing and escaping together. And that loving them does not mean my house is clean all the time.

He asked me to love unconditionally. And He gave me the eyes to have grace and compassion and perspective. He helped me to walk onto the other side of bitterness and forgive others. He helped me to forgive myself.

God did not ask me to do things that I was already good at, or already had the time for, or already felt confident in. He asked me, knowing full well how incapable, ill-prepared, inept, unseasoned, and outright weak I am. He asked me because I did not have the strength on my own... because He wanted to supply it... because of my vast inability and utter dependence on Him.

In the year 2012, God gave me incredible strength to do what He asked me to do. Even when the things seemed really hard. Especially when those things seemed really hard. And it gives me great hope for the year 2013.

Happy New Year from our family to yours!